So for the past 20 years , I've been helping Malaysians and other Southeast Asians to speak better English .
And through training thousands of Southeast Asians , I've discovered a very surprising truth .
I've discovered that how well somebody communicates in English actually has very little to do with their English level .
It has a lot to do with their attitude towards English .
There are people out there who have a very , very low level of English and they can communicate very , very well .
One of them that I remember was a student , a participant of mine named Faisal .
He was a factory supervisor , English level , very , very low .
But this guy could just sit and listen to anybody very calmly clearly .
And then he could respond absolutely , express his thoughts beautifully at a very low level of English .
So today I want to share with you what is so different about people like Faisel , how do they do it ?
And second of all , why is this so important ?
Not only to you but to your Children , to your community and to the future of Malaysia .
And third of all , what's one thing you can do starting today if you want to speak with that , calm , clear confidence that people like Faisal has .
So , first of all , what is so different ?
How do people like Faisal do it ?
So to answer that question , I'm gonna take you back about 10 years .
So I was training staff at that time and my daughter at that time was taking piano lessons and I started to notice two really strong similarities between my daughter's attitude or thinking towards playing the piano and a lot of Malaysians thinking or attitude towards English .
Now , first of all , I should tell you , my daughter absolutely hated piano , hated the lessons , hated practicing .
This is my daughter practicing piano .
This is as good as it got .
This is the real thing and she dreaded going to piano lessons because to my daughter going to piano lessons , she was filled with this sort of dread because it was all about not screwing up , right .
Because like for a lot of piano students , to both my daughter and her teacher , her success in piano was measured by how few mistakes she made .
Now , at the same time , I noticed that a lot of Malaysians went into English conversations with the same sort of feeling of dread , the sort of feeling that they were going to be judged by how many mistakes they were going to make and whether or not they were going to screw up .
Now , the second similarity that I noticed was to do a self image you see , my daughter , she knew what good piano sounded like .
Because we've all heard good piano and she knew what her level was and she knew how long she'd have to play for , to speak to play like that .
And a lot of Malaysians I noticed had this idea of what good proper English is supposed to sound like and what they , I see a lot of you nodding and what their English sounded like and how far they'd have to go to get there .
And they also felt like they were like my daughter just bad , bad piano player , bad English speaker , right ?
My English is not so good .
So I could see these similarities , but I still couldn't figure out , ok , what is it about these people like faisal that are so different that can just do it smoothly , calmly with confidence .
And one day I discovered that answer and I discovered it quite by chance .
It was a day when my computer broke down and I had to go to a cyber cafe now .
It was my first time and I discovered cyber cafes are disgusting places .
They're really gross .
They're smelly and they're filled with boys and they're all playing noisy , violent games .
They're just disgusting places .
But I have to go there .
So I sit down and I start noticing this guy beside me and I become very , very interested in this guy next to me .
Now , this guy is playing this game .
That is basically , it's like shooting people until they die and that's it .
That's the game .
And , and I'm noticing that this guy is not very good .
He's like , in fact , terrible .
Because I'm looking , and I'm seeing like , a lot of shooting and , and , and , and not much dying .
But what really interested me was behind this lousy player were three of his friends , sort of standing there watching him play .
And what I really noticed was even though this guy was terrible , even though his friends were watching him , there was no embarrassment , there was no feeling of being judged .
There was no shyness .
In fact , quite the opposite .
This guy is like totally focused on the bad guys , smile on his face .
All he can think about is , is , is killing these guys , right ?
And I'm watching him and I suddenly realized this is it , this is the same attitude attitude that people like Faisal have when they speak English , just like this guy .
When Faisal goes into an English conversation , he doesn't feel judged .
He's entirely focused on the person that he's speaking to and the result he wants to get , he's got no self awareness , no thoughts about his own mistakes .
Now , I wanna share with you a real true example to paint a picture of somebody who speaks English , like they're playing piano and someone who speaks English , like they're playing a computer game and this is a true story happened to me , um , a while ago I was in a pharmacy .
I had to buy Omega .
My doctor said I should get Omega and I go to the shelf .
There's tons of Omega , there's Omega that's high in DH A Omega that's high in EPA .
And I don't know which one to buy .
Now , the sales rep happened to be there and I saw she was like this well dressed professional woman .
I walk over to her and I see this look as she sees me .
This sort of , it's a look I recognize very well .
Her eyes go all wide .
It's sort of that panic .
Oh my God .
I got to speak to a native speaker and she's gonna judge me and notice my mistakes .
I go up to her and I explain my situation which , which Omega do I get .
And she starts explaining to me everything about DH A and EPA you could possibly imagine .
She speaks very quickly goes all around in circles and when she finishes no idea what to buy .
I'm so I turned to the girl behind the counter .
Now the girl behind the counter , I heard her before her English level is very low .
But when I walk over to her , this girl , there's no fear .
In fact , she's just looking at me , you know that look like .
So how , yeah , I've been in Malaysia a long time so I go up to her and I explain the problem .
E PDH A she looks at me , she says , OK , um uh EPA for heart DH A for brain , your heart .
Or not .
So I said , yeah .
Yeah , I said my heart is really , it's , I think it's pretty good .
She says your brain , OK ?
Or not .
I said , yeah .
No , no , my brain is not as good as it used to be .
She looked , she said you take omega problem solved , right ?
So we've got two different kinds of communicators .
We've got the one who's got a high level , but totally focused on herself and getting it right ?
And therefore very ineffective .
We've got another one low level , totally focused on the person she's talking to and getting a result effective and there lies the difference .
Now , why is this distinction so important ?
Not just to you , to your Children , but to the future of Malaysia and countries like Malaysia .
And to answer that , let's take a look at who actually is speaking English in the world today .
So if we looked at all of the English conversations in the whole world taking place right now on planet Earth , we would see that for every native speaker like me , there are five non native speakers .
And if we listen to every conversation in English on planet Earth , right now , we would notice that 96% of those conversations involved non native English speakers , only 4% of those conversations are native speaker to native speaker .
This is not my language anymore .
This language belongs to you .
It's not an art to be mastered .
It's just a tool to use to get a result .
And I want to give you a , a real life example of what English is today in the world .
Real English today .
This is another true story .
I was at a barbecue a little while ago .
This was a barbecue for engineers , engineers from all over the world .
And uh they were making hot dogs .
Now , some of the hot dogs were regular hot dogs and some were these , these cheese hot dogs , you know , with the cheese in the middle .
French engineer is cooking the hot dogs and he turns to this Korean engineer and he says , uh would you like a hot dog ?
And the Korean guy says , yes , please .
He says , uh do you want the cheese ?
And the Korean guy looks around at the table .
He says , uh I I know sea cheese French guy says , ah the hot dog is contains the cheese Korean guy doesn't understand him , right ?
So the French engineer tries again .
The the hot dog is um is making from uh with the cheese Korean guy still doesn't understand .
He tries again .
He says as a hot dog is coming uh is um coming from no , is coming from a hot dog .
Korean guy cannot understand .
Now , this Japanese engineer who's been listening to this conversation turns to the Korean engineer and he says a integra he understands , everybody understands .
So this is what English is today .
It's just a tool to play around with to get a result like a computer game .
Now , the challenge is that we know in schools all around the world , right ?
English is not really being taught , like it's a tool to play with .
It's still being taught like it's an art to master and students are judged more on correctness than on clarity .
Some of you might remember the old comprehension exam in school .
Does anybody remember in school when you would , you would get a question about a text that you read ?
You'd have to read through some text , right ?
And then answer a question to show that you understood the text .
And this may have happened to you that you showed that you understood the text , but you got a big X because you made a little grammar mistake like this student .
Now this student clearly understood paragraph four , but no , not correct because he left the letter N off the word environment .
But in the real world , what would matter in the real world , what would matter is , did you understand the email or did you understand your customer so that you can go ahead and take action ?
Now , the problem that I see here over and over is that people take the attitude they developed about English in school and they bring it into their adult life and into their work .
And if you're in a stressful situation and you're having a conversation and you're trying to give a result to someone and say it correctly , your brain multitasks , it cannot do two things at once .
And what I see is the brain just shutting down .
And you may recognize these three symptoms of the brain shutting down .
The first one is that your listening goes , someone's talking to you and you're so busy thinking about how you're going to respond and , and express yourself correctly .
You don't actually hear what the other person said .
And I can see a lot of nodding in the audience .
The second thing to go is you're speaking your mind sort of shuts down .
And that vocabulary you do know just disappears and you , the words don't come out .
The third thing to go is your confidence .
And the worst thing about this is you may only be confident because you cannot express yourself clearly , but to the person talking to you , they may misunderstand this as a lack of confidence in your ability to do the job to perform .
So if you want to speak English like Faisel with that great confidence .
Here's the one thing that you can do when you speak , don't focus on yourself , focus on the other person and the result you want to achieve .
Imagine a next generation of Malaysians all with that wonderful confidence in communication that Faisal has at any level of English because let's remember that English today , it's not an art to be mastered , it's just a tool to use to get a result and that tool belongs to you .
Thank you .